Black and white photography is coming back into vogue among photography enthusiasts. When color came into the scene, it resulted in good old black and white photography being less favored. It just seemed so drab and dull when compared to the bursts of color that color photography represented. However, of late, people are beginning to rediscover the intrinsic beauty of black and white photography and the purity and power that these pictures can have. Here are a few tips that should be considered while shooting these photos.
Choosing Your Subject
Irrespective of whether it is a color or a black and white picture, choosing a subject and focusing on it is very important. Needless to say, there is a difference. For example, while some subjects may seem very interesting in color, they often would turn out looking dull and drab in the other version. But then, often a simple scene or a portrait can come out looking quite dramatic in black and white.
When photographing people in black and white, the pictures come out better if they are dressed in simple clothes and solid colors, instead of prints. You can achieve a dramatic and dreamy effect by having as few elements as possible. Many people in fact are opting to get their wedding pictures shot in black and white because of the romantic and timeless quality it gives them.
Landscapes, cityscapes, still life with fruits and flower arrangements also make great subjects for black and white photography. You need to have a keen eye for the unusual, such as the effects of shapes and shadows made by various objects, buildings, or trees.
The Effects of Light and Shadow
As a matter of fact, such photographs are basically about light and shadow. This is the reason they must be used as effectively as possible. For instance, try taking pictures of a scene at various times of the day and you will notice how light and shadow can affect the picture. Another idea is to experiment with the quality or intensity of light. For instance, you could take a picture of a tree on a foggy day, and then photograph the same tree on a bright day.
Take Shapes into Consideration
Since black and white pictures lack color, they are dependent largely on lines and shapes to create interest. Try to incorporate a variety of shapes that create different types of lines such as curving lines, crooked lines, or slanting lines. Stark straight lines can also create a dramatic effect.
Mind Your Perspective
Perspective can create some very interesting effects, especially in black and white photography. Perspective can bring alive a standard subject, it can suggest depth and mystery in everyday objects, and, in fact, you can make a picture tell a story just by using an unusual angle while photographing a scene.
Take Care of the Background
You need to make sure that the subject does not get lost in the background. Often, just by shifting your subject a little to the left or right can help in eliminating unwanted elements in your photograph. Or you could try to take the picture from another angle.
Texture can add interest and definition to these photos. For example, a black and white picture of a roughly textured wall will certainly look more interesting than a smooth wall, or a road made of cobblestones will look more dramatic than a smooth one. A smooth, plain texture will create the desired effect when shooting for shadow photography.
Colors Do Matter
Yes, each color has a different effect on black and white photos. For example, while green and red may look striking juxtaposed against each other in a colored photo, however, the two colors become almost indistinguishable in a black and white photograph. The more contrast the colors have in their grayscale values, the more interest will they create in black and white pictures.
Keep in mind that you can use the stark qualities of black and white shades to create dramatic and meaningful pictures. You can have a lot of fun, and often get strikingly unusual effects, by experimenting with this genre of photography.